Saturday, October 8, 2016

Friday Night Football

From the school's Facebook page.
Ritchie County High School/Middle School is just on the other side of Highway 50 and some of these pleasant Friday nights, I’ve heard a faint roar from the crowd at a football game or heard a particularly enthusiastic drum beat, or maybe a tuba blast, as the band kicked it into high gear. It all had me thinking that small town life really hasn’t changed all that much… High School sports still dominate the social culture in our heartland.  I’ve even been thinking it would be fun to go to a game.

From the school's Facebook page.  Looks like the whole county
came out for this game!!
On another Friday night.

When it isn’t raining (it is tonight).  Because, you know, I might melt or something if I get wet.

Now, I wonder if that’s something I really want to do.  Friday night in early October means football and when it's the only game in town, you hear about it.  Sometimes when you don't really anticipate it, even. Coming home my only strong radio station shifted from light rock to a 2-hour long pre-game show for… High School Football.  And I actually found myself listening with morbid fascination!

Still shot from a game tape found on

Some of the standout comments:
  • There’s a Catholic School somewhere near-ish named Madonna.  Apparently, their school color is blue because they are widely referred to as the Blue Dons. I’m not Catholic so I don’t know for sure… but isn’t it kind of rude to call the Holy Mother by a dude’s name?
  • Our local team must be having an off year.  One of the announcers said tonight’s game in Ellenboro is the kind where the other team should practice plays they aren’t very good at.
  • Technical and un-sportsman like conduct fouls are being called against half-time band performances and Homecoming activities when they don’t clear the field in precisely their allotted 20 minutes.  One guy went so far as to say there should be some electronic way to tip the field so they all slid into the end zone and could get sorted out later.  Another called for directors to come up with a universal signal for “ band geeks to just forget how it looks and get off the field in the quickest direction possible!” because a marching band stayed in formation through a hurried exit.

With those comments, the statistical analysis they were providing of teams, coaches, and individual players, and really just the overall tone of the show I had to wonder when High School sports got to be such serious business.  I’ve watched NFL commentary that was less detailed and critical.  Seriously, individual players had their skills shredded.  Coach’s competency was questioned.  Officials were criticized both over calls they made on field and judgment calls they didn’t make the way the commentators wished.  (The judgement call was over allowing a game to proceed during inclement weather because the rain, and the resulting mud on the field, affected who won.  They went on to criticize the losing quarterback’s mentality for dropping a ball when his hands were caked with mud because he should be smart enough to tuck multiple towels in his waistband to wipe his hands and just toss one when it got too dirty.)  But I think what bothered me most was the praise for “playing a very physical game” when one team inflicted multiple injuries on an opposing team and ruined any chance for them to play in the state championship tournament that year.

When did HIGH SCHOOL sports get so serious?   And when did adults get so mean about it?

Or have I really blocked so many unpleasant memories from my childhood that it only seems like I grew up inside a Norman Rockwell painting?  I don’t know.  But if this is today’s normal, I will happily move back under my happy little rock!

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